Cubs’ Logan Watkins, Donn Roach outrighted to Triple-A Iowa


After being designated for assignment last week, infielder Logan Watkins and right-hander Donn Roach were outrighted to Triple-A Iowa by the Chicago Cubs, clearing waivers after brief stints at the big league level in 2014.

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Gordon Wittenmeyer of the Chicago Sun-Times initially reported the assignments of the pair, only one of whom (Watkins) played for Chicago in 2014. Roach, on the other hand, appeared at the Major League level as a member of the San Diego Padres. The right-hander was claimed off waivers by the Cubs in mid-November, which continues a trend of connections between Chicago acquisitions and both San Diego and the Boston Red Sox – where Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein spent time.

Roach, a former third-round pick of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, gives the Cubs another potential high-power arm waiting in the ranks in the Minor Leagues, which seems likeliest given the fact the team has a plethora of right-handed options at the big league level already (Hector Rondon, Jason Motte, Pedro Strop, Brian Schlitter, Neil Ramirez, Blake Parker, Justin Grimm and Edwin Jackson).

Last season with the Padres, Roach made his big league debut, appearing in 16 games – including one start – totaling 30 1/3 innings. During those 30-plus outings, the right-hander allowed 36 hit and 16 earned runs, issuing 15 walks while striking out 17, pitching to the tune of a 4.75 ERA, 4.75 FIP and 1.681 WHIP.

During his Minor League career, which spans five seasons, the 25-year-old has seen work as both a reliever and a starter, but in recent years, has served primarily as a starting pitcher at the Double and Triple-A levels. In 2014, with Triple-A El Paso, Roach struggled badly for the first time in his professional career, pitching to a 5.24 ERA in 19 games (including 13 starts). His WHIP skyrocketed to 1.784, up from a career mark of 1.329 in the Minors, as control issues surfaced (as indicated by his BB/9 ratio rising to 4.7 from 2.5 in 2013).

Roach is just two years removed from a 1.88 ERA, 1.025 WHIP and 3.55 SO/BB ratio in the mid-Minors.

Just two years removed from an 11-2 mark with a sterling 1.88 ERA, 1.025 WHIP and 3.55 SO/BB ratio between High-A and Double-A, there is no doubt that Roach is another high-upside addition for Chicago. He will likely get a look next spring in camp, but, if he fails to break the big league roster, will work on returning to form with Triple-A Iowa to open the season.

Watkins, a player Cubs fans got somewhat more familiar with in 2014, appeared in 31 games last year, spending the bulk of his time at second base, but also appearing in the outfield on a handful of instances. After breaking onto the scene in 2013 with Chicago, he improved his offensive output while with the club, batting .246/.263/.338 – as compared to his .211/.268/.237 clip from 2013.

Defensively, he was slightly worse in a sample size just barely larger than 2013, posting a -0.6 dWAR, making six errors with Chicago. However, with Triple-A Iowa, where he spent the lion’s share of his season, he showed the ability to, at the very least, maintain his offensive work from the year prior, batting .249/.330/.372 – which is right in line with his career mark of .256/.327/,364 at Triple-A over the last two years.

While it’s unlikely that Watkins becomes a valuable every day piece with the Cubs, he could provide depth on the bench in 2015, especially with the ability to play multiple positions. For now, he has work to do at the plate, given his drop-off since hitting the upper levels of the Minors, but don’t be surprised if you see him at the Friendly Confines next season.

Next: Cubs' youngsters leaving their mark in Winter League